Seven years later, it feels like we are right back where we were on September 10, 2001 - maybe even that we're worse off. George W. Bush, besides simply squandering the international goodwill generated after 9/11, has pushed a mantra that only a great fascist dictator could find attractive - he has not only disagreed with intelligent dissent, he has sought to quash dissent altogether.
If you've disagreed with this president's actions, either at home or abroad, you've been branded a 21st-century Benedict Arnold. This all started with Bush's "You're either with us or you're against us" and "Bring 'em on" mentality that he foisted upon the rest of the world, the same way guys with really small dicks are usually obnoxious. We were going to unleash war, Bush said, wherever and whenever we wanted - and as Heidi might say on Project Runway, "you're either in you're out." (Supply your own cute German accent.)
The problem is twofold: one, as we have all learned, Bush is all smoke and mirrors. We never went to go get Osama bin Laden (which our allies and enemies would have approved of), instead opting to alienate everyone but Tony Blair in a ludicrous attempt to bring "freedom" to Iraq. (This, of course, was never about Saddam Hussein, it was about oil.) Six years and a shitload of $4.00-a-gallon tanks later, we are entangled in more problems than - well, ever.
But that's not even the biggest problem, at least not in the greater scope of human history. The biggest tragedy of the Bush administration is the "with us or against us" mentality Bush and the Republicans have used to rationalizes every fucked-up thing they've done. They turn anyone who disagrees with them into a traitor. Just because I think this president (and vice president, and former secretary of defense, etc. etc. etc.) is a lying, conspiring scumbag doesn't make me a traitor. Just because I didn't support this ridiculous war doesn't mean I don't and won't always support the troops. Just because I don't seek to politicize 9/11 along with the Republicans (i.e. their 2008 convention video, their 2004 convention IN NEW YORK CITY, et. al.) doesn't make me un-American.
In fact, it makes me more American, dare I say. Disagreement, dissent, discourse - this is what makes for a successful democracy. You cannot have democracy without active participation of all the players involved - Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American, male, female, straight, gay, young and old. The rights of those in the minority are as important - if not more important - than the robust power of the majority. The voices of the people - all the people, even if they passionately disagree - are vitally important, even if the president is the ultimate "decider."
Dissent is essential to this country and to the future of this world. That's why Palin's adventures in book-banning scares me so much. We can move forward, together, in this country but only if we air our differences - frequently. And we must be allowed to do so. Disagree, disagree, disagree - and then agree to disagree, and have firm faith that we are all Americans first, and we can all still be Americans even while thinking the other guy is totally fucking nuts.